hanging confederate flags the wrong way

There’s a museum down in florida that has hung a confederate flag … but from a gallows – not a flag pole. This is an art installation that has (of course) proven controversial. The museum claims it wants to foster good, healthy discussion of the difficult topic:

“There’s a balance between the nature of the art that we show and the outcome that we seek, which is to promote dialogue and conversation, and have you maybe think of something in a slightly different way,”

Others were highly offended:

Hurst, commander of the local Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter, said Friday he has lost respect for the museum, calling the display of Sims’ work “offensive, objectionable and tasteless.”

“They’re alienating a large portion of the population around here,” Hurst said. “Maybe they just wanted to cause some controversy.”

He called Sims an “irrelevant individual” with no artistic talent.

“There are some people who have great talent, and they rely on that talent to be successful. There are others who don’t have great talent, and they have to rely on a gimmick,” Hurst said.

Now i do not wish to discuss the quality of this piece of art. What is much more interesting is the offended response. What is objected? (1) that the work of art is alienating certain people (2) that it is causing controversy and (3) that it is not good art. The third is obviously ad hominem, the first two are what we’ve heared coming from europe’s minorities over the last few years.

What does this mean? (1) it means that the west is just as sensitive about certain issues as the (middle-)east is: Germany is known to ban all swastikas, France to make it a crime to deny the Holocaust or the massacre of the Kurds by the Turcs, etc… We are all (more or less unreasonnably) difficult about something or other. (2) The offended parties are usually take a matter personally (hence the retaliation with insults here) that other parties take as a matter that requires social discussion. Is there any reason to not dismiss the remarks of a Hurst simply because they are impolite?


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